Variel the Flayer was a former Red Corsairs Apothecary who had been the favoured apprentice of the Corpsemaster Garreon before abandoning his brethren to join the Night Lords Traitor Legion. Variel was dubbed "the Flayer" due to his habit of skinning his victims' faces and wearing them upon his shoulder pauldrons.
The Renegade Space Marine Variel had been a member of the Astral Claws Chapter before the Chapter was corrupted during the Badab War. Following the corruption of his Chapter he continued to serve as an Apothecary Secundus of the Astral Claws and later the Red Corsairs after the events of the Badab War ran their course. It was Variel, his mentor Chief Apothecary Garreon and Armenneus Valthex who treated their mortally wounded Chapter Master Lufgt Huron. It was they who oversaw the reconstruction of Huron's severely damaged body, helping him to be reborn as the mighty Chaos Lord Huron Blackheart. After the Astral Claws had been cast out of the bosom of the Imperium, and forced to flee into the hellish realm of the Maelstrom, Variel also undertook additional duties as an infamous torturer who oversaw interrogations, contriving inventively malignant punishments and keeping his "subjects" alive and lucid far longer than they wished to be. This earned him the sobriquet of "The Flayer."
Joining the Night Lords
Late in the 41st Millennium, the infamous Talos Valcoran, called the "Soul Hunter", Sergeant of the 1st Claw (squad), 10th Company of the Night Lords, and his warband came to the Maelstrom seeking to repair his damaged vessel. At this time, the conflicting loyalties of Variel's past and present persona began to emerge. Variel liked and respected Talos, who had saved his life some decades previously on a world called Fryga, far more than he did any of his fellow Corsairs or even Blackheart himself. Ultimately, he went on to betray Huron Blackheart and assisted Talos in reacquiring the Red Corsairs' warship Echo of Damnation, a former vessel of the Night Lords Legion that had been captured by the Red Corsairs. Variel would faithfully serve under Talos' command, and would be one of only a handful of survivors of his warband when the Night Lords' former adoptive homeworld of Tsagualsa came under attack from the Eldar of Craftworld Ulthwé, who sought to eliminate Talos, who had become a dire threat to them. Talos instructed Variel to escort his valued mortal servant Septimus and the pregnant Navigator Octavia off-world aboard one of their Thunderhawk gunships. Once in orbit, both of Talos' servants eventually escaped back to the planet's surface. This forced Variel to pursue them. The Apothecary was badly wounded when he encountered the Eldar Phoenix Lord Jain Zar, losing both his legs in the process.
Following the events on Tsagualsa, Variel would continue to serve the Night Lords. He harvested the slain Talos Valcoran's gene-seed which was used to create a new prophet of the Night Lords Legion named Decimus. Variel's specific activities during the 13th Black Crusade are not known but he would emerge under Decimus' command, becoming one of his most trusted advisors.
Variel the Flayer earned his name through a brutal and merciless career. He rarely showed any bias toward saving the lives of any of his brethren he felt did not have a high chance of surviving. This detachment from his fellow Red Corsairs was obvious when he left the Renegade Chapter to join the Night Lords. He did not share the same strong level of disdain for Chaos felt by many of the Traitor Astartes of 1st Claw.
Variel is an unusual Astartes. He is not externally moved by emotions, and keeps a tight control on his own, rarely displaying them overtly even while he takes action. When a wounded Astartes in a triage station wouldn't let go of his arm after two requests, he grabbed the warrior's arm and removed the offending hand with the laser-cutters and bonesaws on his Narthecium and calmly asked his brother, "What have you learned?" Variel is intelligent even for an Astartes and in his own words, "dislikes ignorance." He takes time to study and learn new things he encounters, whether it be the Eldar Lexicon (learned from Eldar captives tortured in his time as a Corsair), or studying the unusual mutations of a brother Astartes.
Variel is a calm, efficient, competent, utterly ruthless medical officer, and possibly one of the best Apothecaries in all the Traitor Legions.
- Night Lords Novel Series:
- Soul Hunter (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Blood Reaver (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Void Stalker (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden